Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spokane city limits: Spared at the Lucky Strike.

I wrote this update on the ladies kind of quickly, and haven't gone over it with my editor hat on, so enjoy some stream of consciousness storytelling.

They're so close to the coast, I can almost smell the sea...

"Great story, Maisie," Stella said as she buckled her seat belt. "You were Carrie Wilder's babysitter."

"How in the hell was I supposed to know Bob was married to Carrie, God rest her soul?" Maisie had thought her explanation was flawless. She'd never been good at math, but she knew right away that the odds that their random good Samaritan, such as he was, had a connection to the randomly chosen Carrie Wilder were astronomical.

As astronomical as the odds that Maisie would have a wad of bills nesting between her breasts, which had been acquired quite honestly by playing a game of chance.

Even more uncharacteristic was the fact that Maisie hadn't told Stella a word about how she'd come into the seed money that had been financing their past few days of funeral-hopping.

It was time to come clean.

So as the Dart followed Bob's Impala down I-90 toward Spokane, Maisie spilled the beans.

She told Stella all about her winning streak in Bozeman. She dug into her cleavage and retrieved the bills as evidence, waving her soggy stash like a fan.

For a moment, Maisie thought that shedding light on her secret would act as a form of absolution. But Stella would have none of it.

"He's onto us, Maisie," Stella's knuckles whitened under her paper-thin skin as she gripped the wheel at 10 and 2. She was driving close behind Bob, so she didn't notice there were many more bills than they'd happened across back in Burlington.

So much for full disclosure, Maisie thought. She tucked the wad of bills back into their hiding place.

"We have to go to Carrie's funeral now, or our cover's completely blown." Stella seemed to be thinking out loud. "He knows what we drive, he probably has our license plate number, we have to spend time in Spokane to get this damned tired fixed, and I'm sure he'd track us down."

"Stella," Maisie said in an uncharacteristically calm, measured, rational tone. "It's not like we're bank robbers. It's not like we're malicious. I think what we're doing is very respectful. And you have to admit - there's nothing like funeral food."

Stella could tell that Bob was watching the Dart in his rear view mirror.

Against her better judgment, Stella drove through Spokane behind the Impala, until Bob drove into the parking lot of the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley and Lounge. The letters that spelled out the event of the evening, Carrie Wilder's last big party, were somewhat askew, and some of the words were misspelled.

"It's a meat and potatoes crowd, I'm thinking." Maisie grumbled in chorus with her stomach.

"No tofu on the premises," Stella said. "But plenty of bikers. Welcome to Harleytown."

Bob unraveled himself from the Impala and wandered with intention straight to the Dart.

"Welcome to the dark side, ladies," he said, blowing smoke from lips that were curled into a grin that was raveled with both sincerity and an odd mania.

"Well, who could have predicted this from Carrie!" Maisie said while generating an obviously false sense of familiarity. "I always knew she'd be popular."

"Cut the act, grandma," Bob said. "You ain't foolin' nobody. Not even me."

"Oh, Bob," Stella had to think faster than Maisie, faster than the Dart would need to fly as soon as there was an obvious exit strategy.

"Let us have a moment with Carrie, and then we'll go, Bob." Stella remembered the wad of cash tucked nicely between Maisie's ample bosom. "We do have a contribution to give, if you know what I mean."

Bob wasn't born yesterday. The ladies owed him a little something for fixing their tire, he thought, and part of him wanted to think they were on the up and up.

It was a very small part.

"Well why didn't you say so?" Bob was suddenly more affable, less defensive.

He must have been a dream to live with, Maisie thought.

"God rest your soul, Carrie Wilder." She wasn't sure if she said it or thought it.

"May I welcome you both to the Lucky Strike - Carrie's home away from home," Bob said with a flourish.

They stridently walked into the Lucky Strike, not anticipating its darkness or the resonant sound of pins falling.

They headed straight for the ladies room.

"Dig deep, Maisie," Stella said before either of them could reach a stall. "Hand Bob a few of the bills you have tucked in your bra and we'll be good to go."

So much for pursuing the simple pastime of sampling the funeral cuisine of the northwest.

As Maisie searched through her simple but complicated makeshift wallet, she realized that tonight, they'd have to pay for dinner.

The wad of cash could prove to be what spared them.

But Bob was waiting right outside the door, so all bets were off until they found their way out of the Lucky Strike.

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